KAZAKHSTAN-IRAN Astana seeks Tehran’s support

Kazakhstan wants to break the international isolation of the Islamic Republic. It corresponds to the “multipolar” policy of President Tokaev, an insurance against Russia’s objectives towards his country. The Kazakh government is determined to press ahead with internal reforms.

Moscow () – The 18th session of the intergovernmental Commission for economic cooperation between Iran and Kazakhstan will be held in Astana in the coming days, according to the official Iranian news agency Isna. Tehran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari, in charge of economic diplomacy, has stated that a high-level delegation from the Islamic Republic will visit Kazakhstan.

Safari explained that “crucial issues for cooperation between the two states will be evaluated in various fields, such as banking, transport and transit of goods, agriculture and commercial development plans, energy and the reciprocity of operations centers” . The signing of several bilateral documents is expected.

The official channels of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not yet provided information on the planned meeting with the Iranian counterpart. The previous meeting of the Commission took place in February 2022 in Tehran.

Iran has been subjected to international sanctions for many years which, among other things, prohibit the export to its territory of any type of technology that could be used in the military or oil sector, in addition to the nuclear one. Anti-government protests began in the fall of last year, especially by women who refuse to wear the headscarf, and were repressed with unprecedented violence. There is talk of more than 500 deaths and thousands of detainees.

Power in Tehran is in the hands of the most conservative faction. In the 2021 elections, Ibrahim Raisi replaced the representative of the moderate wing, Hasan Rouhani, who had been in power for eight years. Raisi, the former head of Iran’s judiciary, had already participated in the repression of protests and is subject to personal sanctions by the United States and the European Union for human rights violations.

In June, Kazakh President Kasym-Žomart Tokaev made his first official visit, suggesting that he wanted to help break Iran’s international isolation. Shortly after his mission to Tehran, Kazakhstan introduced a two-week visa-free entry rule for citizens of India, China and Iran.

On November 7, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Astana, Ajbek Smadjarov, announced during a briefing that Tehran, “in order to develop and strengthen relations between our two countries”, had also introduced the regime of entry without visa for the citizens of Kazakhstan, who could stay freely in Iranian territory between 14 and 42 days, within a period of 180 days.

Kazakhstan’s “multipolar” policy thus confirms its intention to offset any opening in one direction with another in the opposite direction, from the EU to Turkey, passing through the US, Russia and Iran, to scare away the specter of “federalization” of the country by Russia, a Moscow project about which rumors continue to spread in the local and international press.

Along with openings on foreign policy, the Tokaev presidency aims to show determination on the path of domestic reforms. The dissolution of Parliament has been announced with a view to the next political elections; Deputies are already packing their bags and various groups are trying to obtain the necessary qualifications to run in the elections, hoping to get more space than in the recent presidential elections, effectively monopolized by the outgoing president.

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